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Expertise in languages and culture will help Singapore progress

Singapore's bilingual policy is a source of pride for Singaporeans and an example for other countries to emulate.

I am one of the many who have benefited from it, as I am able to effortlessly interact with other participants in English and Mandarin at international forums (What I think about when I think about S'porean Chinese culture; June 15).

Singapore is a multicultural nation and should leverage its expertise in languages and culture to be a connector between nations in the world.

For many years, we have witnessed the efforts of the National Translation Committee and Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) Review Committee to raise translation standards and introduce effective methodologies for the learning of MTLs.

Perhaps these committees could consider working with graduates from the language elective programmes, bicultural programmes and language majors to devise strategies to create a conducive environment for the learning of MTLs. This will enable our ethnic groups to develop a healthy and positive cultural identity, while understanding the customs and practices of other races. Over time, this will create helpful bridges of awareness and understanding to combat radicalism, which has been threatening our peace and stability.

Singapore's continued prosperity depends on its citizens' mutual understanding and support. We need to see our four official languages as assets and not liabilities.

Bilingual citizens can enjoy more career options and work with more markets, such as China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia, ensuring the continuation of the "Made in Singapore" brand.

As long as we continue to work hand in hand, we will be able to progress collectively as a nation, regardless of race and language.

Tay Meng How

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 02, 2017, with the headline 'Expertise in languages and culture will help Singapore progress'. Print Edition | Subscribe